When choosing an attorney, it helps to know who you are dealing with and what to expect. Lawyers typically provide free or low-cost consultations with clients to ensure that both parties mutually understand what will occur when a lawyer is hired on behalf of the client. These consultations help you determine whether your case needs an attorney, but also helps you determine if this particular lawyer is a good fit. Later, if you do choose to hire this lawyer, you can go into the more specific details that your case entails.
While a referral from those you trust can help you determine which attorney to pick, you still need to do your own research during the consultation. Here are 3 questions to ask an attorney before making your decision to hire them.
1. How long have you been practicing law?
As an introduction, it helps to know how much experience your lawyer has practicing law. Experienced Lawyers tend to know the ins and outs of the legal process, saving you time and giving you an advantage in the courtroom. However, you shouldnt immediately discount new or inexperienced attorneys. Some legal issues can be handled by a novice attorney, often at a lower rate.
2. Have you handled a case similar to mine?
A lawyers expertise can mean the difference between winning and losing a case. An attorney will typically specialize in a type of law that is represented by their skillset and education. For instance, it would be unwise to contact an entertainment lawyer for a case of family law (and vice versa). Furthermore, you should ask whether theyve had specific cases and how the details of those cases could relate to your own.
3. What are your attorney costs and fees?
This question is more elaborate version of asking How much will it cost me to hire you? When it comes down to it, legal representation is exchanging money to help manipulate the law in your favor. With this understanding, you should know exactly how much money will be involved before hiring an attorney. Youll want to be able to afford the services of the lawyer and when youll have to pay the costssome require an upfront retainer for their services, especially if your financial status may be threatened by the outcome of your case (or other pending cases). As with any dealings of legality, make sure to get written documentation that shows how costs are determined for consultation, fees, hourly rates, and so forth.
Remember, some attorneys will negotiate to retain you as a client, with the catch being that they may delegate some of the grunt work of your case (i.e. research, drafting documents) to paralegals or legal assistants. Depending on the severity of your case and the willingness of your potential attorney, this may be the route to go.